Irritating

This sort of thing upsets me…

  • Customer looks at ELNs, gets vendors in to chat to.
  • Customer likes what we do.
  • Competitor goes in very aggressively making promises they can’t keep and offering a “free trial”. Salesperson makes no effort to understand the customer’s needs, just keeps nodding and pushing the trial.
  • Customer tries free trial. Vendor unable/unwilling to provide any support – they don’t understand the customer’s problems anyway.
  • Product doesn’t work for the scientists (as we predicted) and promises made aren’t kept.
  • Having tried one, customer’s scientists decide they don’t need an ELN.

The end result is that a whole bunch of scientists are stuck using Paper Notebooks when they could be benefiting from a better system. But the purchasing and sales process got in the way. I expect the Sales person got a commission but that’s the only good that came out of this. This is scorched earth policies.

All ELNs are not created equal. All ELN companies are not equal. We do different things in different ways, and have different strengths (and weaknesses).

As an aside, our sales people can’t make unsustainable promises (and in fact, you’re more likely to hear uncomfortable truths), and their compensation scheme is heavily biased to successful deployments and happy customers. I suspect our compensation scheme is “highly unusual” though and most companies would struggle to put something like it in place.

So anyway, I’m a little frustrated – perhaps I am niave but I’d like to think that we and our fellow vendors have unique viewpoints and capabilities, and it’s in the sales/purchasing process that we help the prospective customer understand what we can do for them and how we fit. Hopefully the right customers buy the right products.

In this case the sales process has created a lose/lose/lose situation. Which is pretty sad really…. and I don’t know what to do about it. Having a more aggressive salesforce isn’t something I’m prepared to consider – makes us as bad as everyone else. Similarly, free pilots don’t work – you don’t get enough attention within the customer organization unless you charge something (even a token amount).

Time to go and write some code, for the therapeutic benefits if nothing else. That prospect will no doubt come back into play in a year or so, and we’ll hopefully engage with them then…

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